Angelo Hopson wins first place in arts competition with painting “George Stinney Jr., Unsung Martyr”
New Orleans native, Angelo Hopson, wins first place in the AUC Arts Festival competition for his awe-inspiring illustration of George Stinney Jr., the youngest person executed in the United States in 1944.
For those who may not know much about George Stinney Jr., he was a 14-year-old African American boy who was wrongly convicted of the murder of two young white girls in a small town of Alcolu, South Carolina. George Stinney Jr. was put through a two-hour trial based on circumstantial evidence, without having his parents or an attorney present, denied clemency and ultimately sentenced to death by electrocution. The tragedy of an unfair trial resulted in the outrage within the African American community which sparked a long-standing fight for justice for George Stinney Jr., despite limited to no resources.
Artistic genius and thought leader, Hopson, displays the act of injustice and the ongoing fight for equality with his riveting acrylic painting on George Stinney Jr. Hopson’s artwork is yet, another monumental addition in the library’s archives of culturally fascinating artwork, his painting will be on display for many years to come.
Hopson is a junior at Clark Atlanta University majoring in supply chain management. Hopson’s personal goal is to assist 10 students get scholarship money this year which is why he created an essay writing workshop for students to win scholarships which will be on February 13th at 7pm in the AUC Woodruff Library in room 303. Free food and drinks will be available, AUC students are encouraged to attend and are welcome to join. Seating is limited, RSVP via email to Angelo Hopson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
CAU Panther’s own, Nailah Heard discussed with Hopson about his inspiration behind his artwork on George Stinney Jr., his perspective on Black history and his background in arts.
NH: You won first place in the AUC Arts Festival competition for your painting of 14-year-old, George Stinney Jr. Tell us your inspiration behind this piece?
AH: It happened at the spur of the moment to be honest. Three days prior to creating George Stinney Jr. I made a piece specifically for the AUC Arts Festival titled “The Ballot or the Bullet.” It was a painting of Malcolm X with direct quotes from his 1964 speech. But the night before the competition I decided to do something different, something or someone in history that not too many of us are aware of. So, I thought of George Stinney Jr., the youngest Afro American to be executed by way of the electric chair. I asked my roommate James which piece would be better for the show, “The Ballot or the Bullet” or “George Stinney Jr., The Unsung Martyr” and he agreed that George spoke volumes. I wanted the judges, the audience, to feel the rawness of the carelessness of the American Judicial system.
NH: Tell us about the creative process behind your art piece on George Stinney Jr. How long did it take you to start and finish the project?
AH: I started on George at around 11:30pm, prior to that I spent considerable time on Google looking for a high-resolution picture of George Stinney’s 1944 mugshot, two hours before his execution. I worked on the piece up until about 4:30am and l finished it later that morning. Up until that time, it was the most emotionally charged piece I ever created. I had brief intervals of head shaking as I laid down the acrylic dipped brush strokes. The more alive he became, the more my level of heavy heartedness grew. I started wondering what my trifles were at 14 years old. I considered my lot compared to his unfortunate disposition. I wondered if he was scared or if he even knew his life was coming to an end? All these thoughts whirled in my head constantly but added to the creativity of the piece.
NH: Why is it important for people to become aware of Black History? What does Black History mean to you?
AH: One of my favorite quotes is by the Honorable Marcus Mosiah Garvey, he said “A people without a knowledge of past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots.” The reason why many of us, or rather, the reason why many of us as a people cannot solve our problems (socially, economically, politically and spiritually) is because the foundation of which progress is made, is essentially nonexistent. It is nonexistent because we have no knowledge of self. We live in a reality that was built and established by us, but controlled by individuals who brought us here in boats. We cannot control a reality, or any reality unless we know all the in-depth aspects of the past reality. It’s like waking up in the middle of a game without knowledge of where you at in the game or the rules of the game. So how do we win? We don’t. Every day I see Afro Americans raising the bar industrially, academically, and socially. But the work of these individuals is that much harder because they essentially are carrying the load for those of us who don’t know who we are, where we came from and how we get ahead in a society that miseducates the children, imprisons the misguided, abandon the middle aged and starves out the old. We must know, we must understand history, or we are doomed to repeat it.
NH: You major in supply chain management, what made you choose this major versus an arts-related major?
AH: I took a ten-year hiatus from school. When I first started my education, I was a fine arts major. From experience I learned that there is a bigger advantage to being a business major than an art major. The problem with most artists is that they tend to shy away from the business end of the art world and focus entirely on the creativity aspect of art. And this is why non-artists, people who have never created art, control the art world. My end goal is to start an artistic revolution and shift the power dynamic to the individuals who create art. This is something that has never been done in the history of art.
NH: Tell us about your background in the arts, have you always been passionate about art?
AH: I’ve been drawing since I was two years old, but I just started painting professionally six years ago. I’ve always had an interest in art. I won my first art competition at seven years old and at eight years old I was selected to be in TAP (Talented Arts Program).
NH: Where do you get your creative inspiration from? Who inspires your creative drive?
AH: My inspiration derives from various entities but life in general and my ancestors who worked till can’t-see-in-the-morning till can’t-see-at-night. Although I grew up poor and faced many challenges not just as an artist but as a Black man in America, my ancestors paved the way for all the opportunities I am able to enjoy today.
NH: Is there anything else you would like for the readers to know?
AH: I want everyone to know that regardless of how dark some aspects of our history, it needs to be known and our stories need to be told. We must stop looking outward, and start looking inward. We have to love ourselves even when society approves us to hate ourselves. Our survival depends on it.
NH: Where can the readers find you?
AH: Instagram @angelo.pierre.arts